Tammy & The Kids Visit….Part 2

FB_IMG_1516214053865.jpgWe had a fun day in Progresso Mexico and then headed back over to the US side.  We headed for South Padre Island which is about a 45 minute drive.  Rich and Cameron were in our car leading the way, and us girls in Tammy’s Jeep.  We arrived after dark at our motel and settled in.  Now we had a number of things planed,  but the weather was going to cause us a problem.  Cameron wanted to do a Deep Sea fishing Trip in the Gulf.  We also wanted to take the Port of Brownsville  Tour and see the ship yards where they dismantle the decommissioned Navy ships.  The USS Ranger is their and the USS Independence just arrived last May.  The weather has not been stable at all this season.  The forecast changed from the 70s to the 60s with some rain.  We had tickets lined up for both but they were both cancelled because of the weather.  FB_IMG_1515893032735.jpg

Tammy did manage to take several drives up the beach.  The first one she was very excited to finally drive up to the end of the road.  South Padre Island has only one main road down the middle.  It continues north until it turns into sand.  It passes all the beach access points, the hotels, condos, restaurants and bars.  It also passes a Zip Line area.  They also offer horse rides on the beach.  It is the farthest north facility on the island.  Then it turns into sand a ways up the road.  It gets so windy the road is always blowing over.  The plows regularly have to plow and maintain the road.  As you see it was sputtering rain on her windshield, but that didn’t stop her.  She drove back to Access 6 and entered the beach.  She said she drove a number of miles north.  On the way they passes the horses out for a ride.

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It was chilly to be on the beach.  The wind blows in from the ocean constantly.

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But I guess if you love horses and the beach, it doesn’t stop you.   It probably was a dream come true for some of those people.  The weather just didn’t cooperate.

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Along the way Tammy stopped and they looked for shells.  She actually found some large Conch shells.  They probably had washed up from the storm that had just come in a day before.  Carly brought her fish net and loaded it up with all her special shells she found.  They loved ridding on the beach.  Its such an exhilarating feeling as the wind blows and the sea gulls fly and chirp.  The feeling of peace, tranquility and Freedom.  Mother Nature at her best.

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Carly on the upper deck…..It was so Cold and Windy

The next trip we did was the Dolphin Eco Watch.  The boat is a double decker.  It holds quite a few people.  It is around a 2 hour trip in the bay, looking for dolphins.  They also drop a net to the bottom and drag it to catch different types of fish.  It was so cold.  We bundled up in our sweat shirts and jackets and boarded.  The girls had so much fun….Even Tammy.  We seen the dolphins many times just swimming around near us.  They would surface and then go under and come up a ways ahead.  The deck hand had dropped the net and reeled it in.  He had quite a few different variety’s of fish.  He cleaned them out of the net and put them all in a bucket with water.  He took them out 1 by 1 and showed them to the kids and adults.

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He actually caught a Sting Ray.  He explained the danger and how to react when near a Sting Ray.  He also showed a Puffer Fish and several others.  Finally he dropped them all back into the bay.  Then they took the boat clear out past the Jetty’s of Padre.  The wind was blowing, the waves were blowing high and splashing against the Jetty Rocks.

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It was so beautiful to see all the hotels at a distance and the beaches.  We also seen Dolphins clear out here.   Finally after almost 2 hours we went back to the docks.

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Now we were all hungry.  We decided to go to Pier 19.  It is a restaurant out on a dock.  Very cool atmosphere.  Every table is by a window.  It is a long and narrow restaurant as it is built actually on the pier.  We had seen Dolphins near the restaurant when we were on the boat, so decided it would be a great place to eat.

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They had some great food.  I had a Hawaiian Burger.  It was awesome.  I can’t wait to go back.   The next day we decided to go to Brownsville to the Gladys Porter Zoo.  It is situated on 31 acres.  The zoo houses about 400 animal species and over 250 tropical and neo-tropical species and subspecies.

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We didn’t see to many animals as it was still so cold.  But we sure seen Flamingos.  It is such a beautiful unique zoo.  The animals are all housed in areas that are natural to their habitats.  You don’t see many in cages, as they are all in natural out door settings.  But since is was so cold, I think they were mostly brought into their indoor areas to escape the unusual cold weather.  Just Carly, Tammy and I went here and we had a great time.  We also took another side trip out to Boca Chica Beach.  It is on the south side of Port of Brownsville.  It is a desolate beautiful area just a stones throw from the border.  After a 20 mile drive it dead ends into the beach at the Gulf of Mexico.  Several years ago they anounced that Space X had bought some ground for a new Missile launch area.  It is being built now, but we were told it would take another 2 years before the first launch.  That night ate out at Louies Backyard on the Bay sideTammy and Carly stayed at the hotel as they were tired.

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Glen and Kathy from the park came down to spend a nite.  They had spent the afternoon at another Club listening to the singer “Leslie”.  After she was done their, she came to sing at Louies.  We had some good food and fun times.

The next morning, Tammy wanted to go for another drive on the beach.  Rich and I and Cameron stayed in the room.   Awhile later, Tammy called…….”Dad do you have a tow rope in your car?“……lol….Oh no…..They had driven into Access 6 again and drove for miles up the beach as it was low tide.  They had a great time until they came back and tried to get back through the Access area.  In these areas the sand accumulates into drifts.  If not cleaned out regularly with a plow, it is like snow drifts up north.  You simply get stuck and end up bottoming out if you keep trying.  Well that’s what happened.   The other thing was, all this time she thought she was in 4 wheel drive.  Cameron had showed her to put the switch in 4 wheel but neglected to show her the other part of the process.  She was lucky she never got stuck earlier.  Well “Dad” didn’t have a tow rope…….Rich and Cameron drove out their and their was a whole crowd helping her.  She had of course bottomed out trying to get out.  Several vehicles tried pulling her but to no avail.   Finally another Jeep hooked up and pulled her right out.  She was so excited that she never took any pictures.  She was disappointed when she realized others were taking pictures but she didn’t get any.  So another Adventure for her to talk about…..lol….But no pictures.   Later she had to wash the Jeep as she was so full of sand.

Our stay at the island was coming to an end.  We had nice rooms.  Cameron stayed with us in ours so the girls could have their room to them selves.  Our room was obviously quieter.  When you went into Tammy’s room it was a disaster.  Clothes all over, and Carly always had her little toys out on the table playing with them.  She always has to have play time with her little toys.  We had a great Breakfast every morning down in the Lobby.  All the cold cereal, donuts, bagels, and toast as well as eggs, potatoes, waffles and juices.  Anything you could want for breakfast.

We left the Island to go home, but Tammy was still staying another day or two.  We both drove and headed for Brownsville,   77 Flea Mkt.  This turned out to be a beautiful day.  The Flea Mkt is huge.  Rich and Cameron took off and us girls started to slowly make our way through.  The girls had fun, even Cassidy.  We found a cheap stroller to put Carly in.  She would have never walked the whole thing.  20171230_133504.jpg

Cassidy found quite a few things.  Several pairs of slacks, make up brushes, and her best item was a blue tooth speaker with disco lites on wheels.  It was made like a rolling suitcase.  Great for taking to her friends or wherever she wants to go.  Tammy found a rolling suitcase for herself, and many other things and food items.  We were half we through and I was tired.  I mentioned, are you getting tired yet, but…… NO…..she wasn’t…..So we finally did the WHOLE FLEA MARKET.   I don’t think I ever walked the whole thing before…..Now we were very hungry.  We ate at a Chinese Buffet.  Good Food.  So we finally went back to Harlingen and Tammy went back to Padre.  That nite they decided to go fishing by the Causeway.  FB_IMG_1515891798874.jpg

Would you believe Cameron caught a Sting Ray.  It was being chased by a Puffer Fish.

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He finally pulled it on the dock.  A Mexican who didn’t speak much English helped Cameron get it off the hook and finally sent it back in.  FB_IMG_1515891839792.jpg

Now that is something you sure can’t catch in Illinois.  More memories were made.  The next morning they decided it was time to leave.  The kids wanted to go home.  They arrived back at our camper around 11:30.  Tammy come flying in and said….”Dad, Dad, take me to Mexico one last time….Please?”  Cameron said ” No, you don’t need to go”…..Tammy looked at Cameron and said….“I’m the mom your the kid…..You can’t tell me what to do”…..Then she looked at Dad and said ” Please Please, I want to go back one more time”.….So of course, Tammy, Cameron and Dad went back to Mexico…..I took Cassidy and Carly and went to Mr Gatti’s.  Its a Pizza Buffet.   It also has Pasta, Mac and Cheese, Baked Potatoes and the fixings and a great Salad Bar.  We went back to the park and I had 2 more things to do with the kids.  My friend Gail Rollo has written a Children’s book.  She is selling it in certain book stores and on Amazon.  She has been doing some book signings also.20171210_124501.jpg

Its a wonderful book of a dream that she had when she was a child.  After all these years, she has written the book and Published it.  Were all so proud of her Accomplishment.

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I wanted Gail to sign one for Carly so we stopped at her house.  Gail read the book to her and then signed her very own book.  Carly loved it.  She held the book with 2 hands against her chest when we left.  It was very special to her.

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Our next stop was Roberta’s.  Roberta and Ken have 2 Parrots.  Maui is a Beautiful Red and Blue Parrot.  20171231_133908.jpg

Cassidy met her 2 years ago.  At that time Maui was the only one she had.  Since then, Roberta has been given Benny.  His owners had passed away and he desperately need a family.   20171231_134030.jpg

Benny is a beautiful blue and yellow Parrot.  Roberta is so good with birds, animals of any kind and has a wonderful green thumb.  She can grow anything.  So Carly poised for this picture with her doll and they had their matching dresses on, that they bought in Mexico.  Finally Rich, Tammy and Cameron came back around 5.  They drove across this time.  Tammy had to walk almost the whole length of the shopping area that we stick to in Progresso.  She shopped and shopped and made sure she had her Margarita.  She loved it.  20171231_173423.jpg

But now it was time to head out.  I thought they would be to tired to drive, but they wanted to go.  The kids sleep at nite and travel better.  So around 5:30 the left.  I figured they would stop and sleep.  It is a very long drive.  But with Cameron and her driving, they made it straight through in 22 hours.  They pulled into home in Illinois before 4 pm the next afternoon. …. OMG….No way.
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It was a great time having Tammy and the kids here.  We didn’t get to do everything we wanted but we did a lot.   We never had a dull moment.  It was so nice after going on 4 years that one of the kids have finally came down and seen where we live in the winter.  Their is so much to offer in the Rio Grande Valley.  It is such a different life style than back home.  Harlingen area has so much to offer.  So much to see and do.  It never gets old.  Much history and many things I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet.  It is a life style that is so unique, and so hard to describe to anyone up north.  It is an area the Winter Texans come back to every year to enjoy the warmth of the weather, the beach, and the culture of the Southern Texans……It is so nice to think, the beach and the ocean are just a short drive away.   

…….We Made So Many Wonderful Memories…..

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Tammy and The Kids Were Here for Christmas….Chapter 1

This was the first time any of the kids have been down.  Cameron and Cassidy, the grandkids were down 2 years ago, but this time they all planned on coming down for Christmas.  It was really nice to have them here.  They drove down in Tammy’s  Jeep.  I brought over our little table top tree to the trailer they stayed in.  I put it on the coffee table and decorated with some garland.  I also brought over one of our tomato cage Christmas trees and put in the screen porch.  We wanted it to look festive cause Santa was coming for Carly……She is only 5, of course she believes.   They left on Thursday and stopped in Arkansas at Tammy’s friends, Char, Joy and Pamela.  Then they continued straight through all the way down.  They stopped in Port Mansfield which is about an hour away on Saturday.  They wanted to see the GulfPort Mansfield is right on the Gulf and is a good place to fish.  They bought a fishing license and did a little fishing.

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They caught a really cool fish in about a half hour.   Of course they had no choice but to throw it back.  In Port Mansfield their is a herd of deer that roam the town.

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They come right up to the car and you can feed them.  They fed them corn curls….They finally arrived Saturday afternoon very tired.  The next day was Christmas Eve DayTammy decided to take Carly over to the Hugh Ramsey Nature Preserve.

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It is only a block away.   Every Friday they have guided nature walks or bird walks.  The paths take you all the way down to the Arroyo as they call it.  For us, we call it River…..

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Its so full of beautiful cactus’s and beautiful trees.   This area is a major bird watching area.  Rio Grande Valley is on the major bird migration route.  Many of them come up from South America, and this is the first areas of land they come to.  They stop in this area and spend time resting and eating so they can eventually proceed north.  Their are so many bird watchers here in the area.  Many different Nature preserves for the birds and all the wildlife.

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Its amazing that their is so much beauty right near our park.  All the different cactus’s and different textures of plants.  Since it was Christmas Eve, they held church services in the hall.  I went up around 5 after services were over and had them set up tables for Christmas Dinner the next day.  Then back home and it was time for supper……By that time they were all sitting around for a late Happy Hour…..It just happens when ever you want it…..lol…Even Cameron joined…..

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Rich fired up the grill and we cooked supper and set up 2 tables on the pad next to us that was still empty…..So this is Christmas Eve Texas Style…..No snow…..No Winter coats….No snow shovels…..we did have jackets on as it was getting a little chilly….But the day had been a beautiful day…..So Now it was time for bed for Carly……Santa was coming in the morning……

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We went over at 7 in the morning.  Carly was so excited.  Santa managed to find her in Texas…..20171225_073731.jpg

She got some cool toys….If your wondering about Cameron and Cassidy……they are here….lol…but neither one really likes their picture taken…..Cassidy is hooked up to her headphones and phone all the time and doesn’t like to do the things Carly does.  Typical Teen…..Cameron hangs around Grandpa…   After they opened presents, I went up to make sure the Volunteer cooks were doing ok with the hams.   Dinner was at 1pm.  They cooked 7 spiral hams for the residents.  Eveyone brought a dish to pass for our tables.  We also had a table decorating contest….20171225_124219.jpg

This was the winner. What an imagination.  This snowman was cut out of Styrofoam.  Then he had everyone Autograph it….He had it set at the end of the table and then took it down to eat.  20171225_161537.jpg

Now we all know what Christmas Day is….Rich’s Birthday….He had been wanting a Birthday Cake.   About a week before Glen and Kathy, our neighbors, took the picture of his bike down to the grocery store and ordered this cake…..We surprised him and brought it in….

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They did a beautiful job.  Rich is now…..’’68”……He is now older than me for 8 months….lol…One of the lady’s in the park played some Christmas Carols and then we cleaned up, did dishes, move tables back and all was done by 3pm…..The rest of the day was a lazy day (another Happy Hour).  So now our plans were, leave in the morning and head for Progresso Mexico.  The weather was still ok, but the forecast wasn’t looking good for the rest of the week.  Tammy had a hotel rented on South Padre Island for the rest of the week.  We also booked a room for 3 days.  So plans were to pack up in the morning and head to Mexico, spend the day and then down to SPI and check in.   We finally left the park by around 11.  We drove two cars to Progresso.  Its only about a half hour or a little more.  We parked on the American side and walked over.

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This is the middle of the bridge.  Underneath is the Rio Grande River, which is the dividing line between the US and Mexico.  20171226_125206.jpg

It really isn’t that far to walk.  As soon as you walk off the bridge on the other side, the town of Progresso begins.  When you look over the side, you can see all the women and children begging for money, pennies or quarters.  When you get to the other side where the ground meets the bridge, they are shoving their baseball hats threw the holes asking for money.  20171226_125547.jpg

The kids all were really excited about going over.  Tammy had gotten her passports in the mail, just weeks earlier.   This picture of Cassidy is right at the end of the bridge.  You can see the Mexican government security gates that you have to go through when driving.  We do drive over also sometimes.  They don’t bother you going in to Mexico, but coming back into the US on the US side,  you of course have to show your passports and they ask questions about what you are bring back.  They can be very thorough.  Many times we’ve seen them pull a car over and pull everything out to search.  They use mirrors, cameras and dogs.

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Here is a favorite place to take a photo.  This is what you see as you get ready to go through their gates.  So the adventure began.  The kids kept walking past all the sidewalk vendors.  We kept a tight hold on Carly.  Everyone of course was approaching us with their dental cards and everything else for business.  We finally went in a little shop area.  This guy spray paints pictures.  He uses only aerosol cans and little pieces of cardboard.

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He painted this picture while we watched.   He only charged $15.  Great souvenir.   Our next stop was a restaurant.  We went to Arturo’s.  Its one of our favorites to eat at.  Very clean and nice.  20171226_140455.jpg

We ordered off the menu and had some drinks.  They don’t care about ages so Cameron had beer or two. … lol. … Cassidy tried her moms Margarita.   Finally we went on.  We looked at the street vendors and the shops.  We went to our favorite Pharmacy and I introduced Tammy to Jasmine,  who also works with the Dentist in the adjoining office.  They are the ones who made my upper plate.  Her sister and husband are the Dentists, and Jasmine is the interpreter.  I believe she also runs the Pharmacy.  Next after a few purchases, we went to their department stores…..

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well not really but they are full of pills, souvenir’s, piñata, pots, candy, clothes and anything you can think of.20171226_132455.jpg

Their is so much traditional Mexican clothing and hats for sale.  Cassidy found some cute shoes and Carly found a matching dress for her and her doll.

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Finally it was time to head back over to the USProgresso is the only city that is advised to crossover over.  All the others they say to stay out of.  Matamoros by Brownsville use to be a favorite.  They say the Cartel is strong in these border towns and its unsafe.  In Progresso we feel really safe.  As long as you leave late afternoon before dusk, your fine.  So many people go over for dental work and pharmacy.  Some even come to Southern Texas just to go across and get dental work done.  It is a lot of fun their.  Theirs many street bars and singing entertainment all the time.  But of course they are always asking for money and your always approached on the street to buy something from even the smallest of kids.  They learn as soon as they walk, how to beg.  The Winter Texans are a Major source for their income, so they do seem to watch out for us.  They need our business.  Finally after a walk over the bridge and through customs, we were back in our parking lot.  We showed our passports and today was an easy day.  They didn’t even ask what was in our sacks.  I even think I detected a smile…..Now that’s Unusual….

So I got in with the girls and Cameron rode with Grandpa and off to South Padre Island to check into our Hotel………..The Next Chapter…..lol…

 

 

 

 

Rich Has Been Home a Month…..Time to Catch Up

Rich finally made it home from Illinois, right after Thanksgiving.  Three months of living at Scott and Brandys and driving truck, hauling grain to the elevator, was enough.  He was ready to leave.  The weather had continually deteriorated.  It seemed like it rained almost every week.  Then it would take a day or two for the fields to dry to get the equipment in.  The temperature dropped.  Even time for a winter coat.  It was a very late harvest this year compared to the norm.  We weren’t prepared for that.  But at last, their last day was just before Thanksgiving.   He had Thanksgiving with the kids and finished up a few things and took off.

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They all enjoyed having him home I’m sure.  The house was full of all the kids and their familys and some other friends.  Now if you look close in the corner, you’ll see the Christmas tree up already.  It is sitting on top of what was the dog kennel for Chaos…..Carly decorated it for Christmas.

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Tammy bought little wooden house kits.  Carly painted and assembled them.  Then they used Christmas drape for the ground, gems, my old Christmas village people and animals and assembled a village.  Then she sprayed snow on the buildings and hung little lights from the top.  It is just adorable.  It is big enough, Carly can actually get in….lol….She loves to do artistic things.  She definitely has a great imagination.

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The one thing I don’t miss is the mess of the kitchen…This is what it looked like every holiday after the meal.  Such a mess…..Now its Tammy’s Mess……lol….

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But they did have a good time and the kids and Aunt Connie, Uncle Brian, Cousin Ashley, Matt and their 2 little girls, Vivian and Adalyn, and of course Aunt Beth.  They had a house full.

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He was also able to enjoy Halloween at the bar.  Scott and Brandy really decorate the bar up good.  They hang all the Ghosts and Goblins  from the ceilings and lights.

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It looks really cool.  And Here is some of the patrons on Halloween…..

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Yes, they do have fun.  Usually he has Karaoke or a band on Fridays or Holidays.  IMG_20170928_143930003

So Rich was in Illinois about 3 months working the Harvest for Corn and Soy Beans.  He has worked for this farmer now for several years.  He drives the semi after its loaded from the field to the elevator.  The farmer farms around 4,000 acres in corn and soybeans.  The acreage is spread around several counties, some as far as 40 miles away.  So it takes a lot of road time to get the crops to the elavater to the field. When they were at their farthest, they had 3 trucks on the road making rounds.

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This is the combine with the bean head on it.  They were combining the soy beans here.

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Then the combine dumps into the wagon that is being pulled by a tractor.

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Next the tractor and wagon drives up to the truck and trailer which is sitting along side the road.  The tractor then dumps his load into the trailer behind the semi.  When the semi is full, it is driven to the elevator to dump.

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Here is McNabb Elevator from the park.  They seem to add another bin every year.  When we first moved to town in 1978 most of these weren’t here.

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This was the old office.  It looks so small now being surrounded by the grain bins.  When we first moved to town in 1978, we were just a few houses from here.  This office was then a very busy place.  The truck scales were right were the green Artic Cat boxes are.  It was sold and now artic cat snowmobiles, golf carts, and 4 wheelers are now sold their.

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This is the new office that was built a number of years ago.  Theirs nothing like living in a farming community.  In the fall you can hear the dryers running day and nite, drying the crops…..You will find a layer of red corn dust over your vehicles as it flies through the air.  Its on the sidewalks and porch’s and can track in the house.  Yes, nothing like living in town and enjoying the farm life…..

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Some of the fields were on the other side of the  Illinois River.  This is a cool shot of the River with the Railroad bridge.  Rich is on I 39 heading north.

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One day he seen Tammy and he picked up Carly for a ride back to McNabb.  She loved it.

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Rich took this picture of an arial picture hanging in the elevator.  Its a pretty cool picture of McNabb.  The elevator and office are in the foreground.  Main st. looks very short.  You can see Scotts Bar on the corner.  The town actually extends about 2 blocks north in the picture.  That would be to the left.  This is what a town of 350 people look like.

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So finally the harvest season was done.  This was a really nice picture Rich took.  He made a nice little nest egg, and he bought a new to us car.  Now i’m living in luxury.

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Electric seats and windows and even an automatic transmission.  I don’t have to drive the farmer truck anymore…..lol….It has crank windows, manual seat and manual transmision.  So Their it is.  A Chevy Equinox.  It the grayish one.  It is sleet raining at Scotts house.  Finally Rich was ready to leave.  He decided that he wanted to bring down his custom bike.

Richs custumHe built it a number of years ago.  It is made from scratch, piece by piece. He even molded the fenders to fit.  It took several years to put together due to the cost of course.  It sure doesn’t come cheap.  It has a lot of really cool detail to it.   It has been sitting down in Scotts basement for 3 years now.  So he rented a U-Haul to bring it down.

20171204_091754.jpg  He left on Sat. and arrived Sunday evening.  Its a long way to drive for one person.  He was tired.  Well when he arrived it was warm.  A cold front came in the next day and GUESS WHAT…….IT SNOWED

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It was the first time since 2004.  We couldn’t believe it.

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When you walked out side, I smelled that old familiar cold crisp smell.  Even after not having snow for 3 winters I realized after 5 minutes, it was enough….lol….

The schools were starting late due to winter warnings…..lol…They were all excited.  The newscasters were loving it.  They kept quoting the history of the last snow falls.  But…..Now the Winter Texans….That’s a different story….We were not happy about it….

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This was my drive up to the office.  It actually accumulated on the window and it was still snowing.  The palm trees and all the tropical plants had snow on them….

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It was pretty though…But the funniest thing to see was …..People in the Hot Tub….These teens in the tub were from Wisconsin visiting their Grandma Debbie.  Nothing stopped them.  If you notice their was a fog coming off the pool area……Fortunately it didn’t last long.  It melted later that day.  So Rich unloaded the bike, the next day we took the trailer to U-Haul…..He was glad to be back in the warmth…..Well, he had to wait a few more days…..hahaha…..

Now it was only several weeks till Christmas.  Tammy, Cameron, Cassidy and Carly came for Christmas.  We had a lot of fun and was busy every day.  We didn’t get to do everything we wanted because of the weather, but they had fun.  That will be the next blog….

All about Tammy and the kids and us at South Padre Island for Christmas.